Guest Blogger: This Fathers’ Day, support working fathers through the EITC
Posted on 06/18/16
As a father, I work hard to take care of my child. Even though I am not married to his mother, I’m still an important part of his life. I respect and love his mother, provide financial support, make sure his homework gets done, cheer from the sidelines at his basketball and baseball games, and give him sound advice when he faces challenges. As a fatherhood practitioner for over 20 years I’ve observed and worked with thousands of fathers who display the same passion and commitment to their children.
As Father’s Day approaches, I can’t help thinking about low-income working fathers struggling to support their kids financially. A large majority of the fathers I’ve worked with are noncustodial parents. Like me, they provide financial and emotional support for their children, but they have difficulty making ends meet. These fathers, like all fathers, provide critical inputs and supports for their children’s social, emotional and intellectual development. And they do so while often facing difficult economic hardships. Unfortunately, the federal tax code contributes to their troubles. According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, low-wage childless adults are the only group that the federal tax code taxes into poverty. This includes noncustodial parents – parents who support children but don’t live with them. One of the main reasons they fall behind is because they’re excluded from claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The EITC encourages and rewards work, offsets federal payroll and income taxes, and helps meet basic needs. It’s one of America’s most powerful anti-poverty tools for working people. Nearly one million working Ohio families received the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in 2013. Between 2011-13, the credit lifted 289,000 Ohioans out of poverty.
But the credit does not reach childless workers and noncustodial parents. Fortunately, there is bi-partisan support to take this on. President Barack Obama and House Speaker Paul Ryan have offered similar proposals that would help many people in this group. The United States Department of Treasury reports that President Obama’s plan would help 1.5 million noncustodial parents. Our own United States Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Richard Neal have offered plans that would go even further in preventing these hardworking parents from being taxed into poverty.
All of the proposals include lowering the eligibility age and increasing the maximum credit. Currently, a person must be at least 25 to claim the EITC. Lowering the age to 21 would help our younger fathers, many of whom are getting their first job as low-wage workers. The proposals would also raise the $500 maximum credit. The Obama/Ryan plans increase it to $1,000 and the Brown/Neal plans would go up to $1,400. Raising the maximum credit could put more money in the pockets of low-wage fathers to take care of their children and help them make ends meet.
You can help working low-income fathers right here in Ohio this Father’s Day by asking your elected officials to support fathers and their children. Join me in calling on Congress to support proposals to expand the EITC to childless adults and noncustodial parents. I’ll thank you, hard-working low-income dads will thank you, and their kids will thank you too.
--By Calvin Williams